Back in December, in the midst of his breakout stretch as one of the NBA’s best sixth men, Reggie Jackson told reporters of his desire to eventually be a starter.
“Every day I woke up at 5 in the morning in high school, getting shots up and I never said I wanted to be a bench player,” Jackson said after a shootaround in Denver. “I always woke up to be the greatest.”
During his exit interview on Sunday, he reiterated: “I’d like to be a starter. I’m not going to lie.”
And for four games to end this latest Thunder postseason run, Jackson got his wish. He’d started in the past, replacing Russell Westbrook for all 45 of the games the All-Star missed.
But this time was different. This time the entire roster was healthy. This time Jackson was in the starting lineup alongside the superstars and, for the first time, looked like a viable option to remain in it for the foreseeable future.
But following the series loss to San Antonio, coach Scott Brooks and the Thunder seemed non-committal, even a bit lukewarm on the thought.
“Don’t know,” Brooks said. “It’s so early.”
“I’m not sure, man,” Westbrook said of that starting backcourt. “Obviously we made those changes based on the series and based on different things throughout the playoffs. That’s something I’m not sure about.”
For the team, it might be better to keep Jackson coming off the bench. Get him 30 minutes a night, give the second-unit a primary playmaker and then keep him out there with the starters in crunch time.
But that’s looking more and more like a harder sell to Jackson.
“It’s tough,” Jackson said of a sixth man role. “I’m really a control freak. I like to be in control. That’s kind of how I am. That’s how point guards tend to be. Kind of quirky. I like to feel in control, kind of running the show.”